Helping Your Child Become A Committee Of One
- Eating Healthy in a Junk-food WorldAge
One of the challenges children with celiac, food allergies or intolerances is that they must
function confidently in a “Junk Food” environment. This confidence and independence is
critical to their physical and emotional survival in an often-cruel peer environment, when
teased or bullied. This means our children must develop a very independent self-sufficient
mindset. I call this mind set a “Committee of One.” Kids look to their families to help them
develop this mindset, especially from mom and dad. This mindset will extend to all parts of
their lives, allowing them to withstand the hurting comments that sometimes come from
peers, and have a strong and healthy perspective in the moment enabling them to deal
with tough situations in a responsible manner.
In one of my Kids Kulinary Boot Kamps, I had a student who cooked some great dishes. At
12 years old, she prepared an entire meal for her family – not peanut butter sandwiches,
but a spicy meatloaf with homemade BBQ sauce, sides and dessert. She obviously had all
it takes to prepare meals. At the end of one of the classes, she proudly served samples of
her excellent work to her mom, dad and sister. While serving the last plate she tripped and
dropped a plate, and red Italian sauce went everywhere including the ceiling, and pieces of
the plate shot in every direction. Sadly, she got embarrassed and the tears started to
flow. She refused to eat.
This moment should have been a time of laughter because no one was hurt or went
without food, and it was quite a humorous spectacle. But it wasn’t for her. I do not
proclaim to know much about psychology, but I can truly relate to her emotions and
experience, because (as my wife would tell you) I strive for perfection on the plate. When
something is less than perfect, I won’t serve it, and I sometimes get frustrated when my
effort didn’t produce the results I intended. This is in part a result of the way I was raised
and trained. However, this perfectionist mindset can be detrimental in some situations,
because it can steal the joy of the moment.
Instead of considering the reality of the situation at the moment, we look for approval and
validation from others (especially chefs when it comes to their food). When the result is
criticism rather than praise, it is hard to process and accept, especially for kids. Ask your
Junior High or High School student how their peers often strike at each other when
vulnerable; it may surprise you. Better yet, ask a teacher what he/she observed. It is our
job as parents to teach our children to put things into perspective and consider the big
picture when the moment is not pleasant.
We have already determined getting your kids in the kitchen has so many positive benefits,
however you must create an environment where the kids can blossom, not one of worrying
about something going wrong or not turning out right. One of the things I do in the kids’
boot camp is tossing a raw egg to a student such that it is nearly impossible to catch.
When the egg hits the floor, I am not looking at the egg. I am looking at the kids’
responses. Sometimes the kids laugh, while others are horrified and petrified. Once the
shocked kids see me laugh, the change on their face is instantaneous; relief followed by
joining in the laughter.
Teach your children that cooking, like so many other activities in life, is to be enjoyed and
not taken too seriously. The joy of family and friends should always outshine any peer
criticism they receive because they bring a brown bag lunch to school instead of ordering
from the pizza bar. Teaching them to become a committee of one will allow them boast of
their own braised chicken with a white wine sauce that they made instead of their friends
eating pizza they don’t even know how to make.
Self-sufficiency and ability help develop confidence and independence. Get them cooking
and challenge them to strive for excellence. When the bumps in the road cause their
dessert to collapse, just grab a fork, dig in and laugh (WITH them).
Chef David Hall
Copyright 2010, Thyme for a Chef, LLC. All rights reserved.